Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck’s new album “18” got little praise when it came out in mid-July, but reviews are now taking a back seat to allegations of theft – as their song “Sad Motherf**kin’ Parade” shares several rules with a year 60 poem not mentioned in the liner notes.
The poem “Hobo Ben” in question was written by Slim Wilson, a black vagabond who was convicted of murder and later incarcerated for armed robbery, according to Rolling Stone. Wilson met American folklorist Bruce Jackson in 1964 while Wilson was in Missouri State Penitentiary.
While Wilson’s real name remains a mystery, Jackson said he was “one of the best storytellers” he’d ever come across. Jackson used “Hobo Ben,” among many of Wilson’s other toasts and poems, in his 1974 book “Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me.”
Wilson performed his work for Jackson’s 1976 album of the same name, only for “Hobo Ben” to make a surprising comeback decades later. Jackson, now a distinguished professor at the University at Buffalo, believes that Depp and Beck completely “swindled” them.
Depp and Beck’s song features numerous lines from Wilson, including “Cause if the Man come you make a sad motherfuckin’ parade”; “I’m ragged, I know, but I don’t have a stench”; “God bless the lady who’ll buy me a drink,” and “What that funky bastard really needs, kid, is a bath.”
“The only two lines I could find in the whole piece that” [Depp and Beck] contributed are ‘Big time motherfucker’ and ‘Bust it down to my level,’” Jackson told Rolling Stone. “Everything else is from Slim’s performance in my book.”
“I’ve never come across anything like it,” Jackson added. “I’ve been publishing stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time someone has scammed something and put their own name on it.”
While Jackson gave each person he interviewed in prison an alias to protect them from potential conflict with guards, he believes Depp and Beck had a legal duty to name him, Wilson, and the copyrighted works in which the lyrics appeared.
His son, Michael Lee Jackson, said the liner notes “do not reflect the actual authorship of those lyrics,” according to The Guardian. The father and son are now considering possible legal action against Depp and Beck.
“It’s just not plausible, in my opinion, that Johnny Depp or anyone else could have made these lyrics without taking them almost entirely from some version of my father’s recording and/or book where they appeared,” said Michael Lee. jackson.
A spokesperson for the “18” album has since told Rolling Stone that they are “initiating an investigation into the song ‘Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade'” to decide whether “additional copyright credits will be added to all forms of the album.” album.